Supreme Court Won't Revive North Carolina's Voter ID Law

The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a voting rights case out of North Carolina, leaving in place a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state's photo identification requirement and other election changes as motivated by "racially discriminatory intent". Lawyers for the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly urged the Supreme Court to consider the case anyway, reasoning that the legislature and the state elections board - not the governor and his attorney general - are the real defendants in the case.

The appeals court had said the law targeted black voters with "surgical precision".

North Carolina is just one of many states that enacted laws that made it more hard for mostly young and minority voters (who tend to vote Democrat) to exercise their rights.

The appeal was filed by private lawyers in December, when Republican Pat McCrory was governor.

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"Given the blizzard of filings over who is and who is not authorized to seek review in the court under North Carolina law, it is important to recall our frequent admonition that the denial of writ of certiorari imports no expression of opinion on the merits", Roberts wrote in a statement.

Republican leaders in the Tar Heel State had appealed to the nation's highest bench after a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit unanimously ruled a year ago that portions of the 2013 law were racially discriminatory and unconstitutional.

"Republicans will continue to fight for common sense and constitutional voter ID measures, similar to what many other states already have", said Hayes, a former congressman.

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Chief Justice John Roberts cautioned Monday in the two-page order that the rejection of the appeal is not a comment on the court's view about the substance of the law.

The law was criticized for enacting rules that appeared created to sideline African American voters, such as reducing the time period for early voting, prohibiting voters from registering on the day of the election, and forcing them to present certain types of photo ID.

Following the appellate ruling, the state asked the high court to allow the challenged provisions to remain in effect in November's election. But the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said last July the state provided no evidence of the kind of in-person voter fraud the ID mandate would address.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) took to Twitter to call it "a huge victory against sham voter ID laws written to suppress the vote". Proponents of voter-restriction laws have long argued they are meant to stop voter fraud and other abuses.

The measure, approved in 2013 by the state's Republican-dominated legislature, also reduced the number of early voting days from 17 to 10 and prohibited same-day registration during the early voting period. But the Republican-led state legislature said it should be able to intervene to defend the law.

The case challenging the North Carolina law was brought by civil rights groups and the Obama administration. The Richmond, Virginia-based court said the law was enacted with intentional bias against black voters.

"This is a huge victory for voters and a massive blow to Republicans trying to restrict access to the ballot, especially in communities of color", said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

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